Tennis Prose



Respect To The Man Who Never Wins

Everybody loves a winner, and to read about how they do it, to watch their execution of triumph, and to study and draw inspiration from their athletic and intellectual excellence.

But let’s take time out to respect the loser. I know of one such player who always loses. I want to make this article a salute to the player who rarely ever wins. But keeps on playing, trying, striving to someday be a winner.

This player has been at it for over a decade and never wins in the small leagues and tournaments he enters. He simply never wins. The web site says he lost 203 singles matches and these records are not complete. Why does he always lose? Too many errors, too many mistakes, too many wrong shot selections. He has good form, flashes of brilliance. When a ball is in his strike zone and he times it right and is in proper position, he can unleash a rocket winner out of nowhere. But most of the time, he mistimes the ball or his footwork was sloppy or lazy or Volkl racquet take back was too slow and he hits the ball a little late.

It’s surely disappointing for him to experience the same failed result every match he plays singles or doubles. It’s also frustrating for his friends who watch the same story play out every time.

One friend or acquaintance even playfully mocked our losing player recently, shouting while he was practicing, “You never got better in ten years, you miss the same balls over and over…” Something to that effect. The losing player seemed hurt by the public scolding but kept on practicing business as usual. Like an ace that whizzed by his racquet, he had no reply.

But our friend does not give up. He keeps trying, keeps playing, keeps buying new attire and shoes and racquets, keeps showing up to different clubs, he refuses to quit the sport he obviously loves so much. With zero confidence, he entered the recent tournament and lost all his singles and doubles matches, main draw and consolation. He did not win a set.

A lesser man would have hung it all up and taken up fishing or golf years ago. But our friend is not your typical fellow. He has a profound love of the sport of tennis and the social aspects, even though he loses every single time he plays, for the last decade or so, he will not surrender.

He is a good man without a mean bone in his body, he never says anything to hurt anyone, he never shows any kind of poor sportsmanship or bitterness to those who play better. He might lose more than any tennis player in the world today but he keeps a brave face and his chin up and an upbeat spirit.

He just keeps on trying to keep playing for whatever his reasons are, to find his inner Federer or Fognini or Frank Dancevic.

So this article is a short essay of appreciation for a tennis player who never wins but at least they keep trying. Because we all have something we want and we will never get.

“Remember, every man we encounter is in some way our superior.”

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  • Sam · September 21, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Good article, Scoop. In the end, the only thing any of us can control is our own effort—and our attitude. We can’t usually control outcomes.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 21, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks Sam. This player sent me this text after a dramatic doubles semifinal win at our club, where I had to save like 5 game points on return at 64 46 54 us in third set after my partner missed volleys at net on two match points then he missed like 5 returns in a row. We finally won, it was like a 30 minute game. One of the opponents beat Thomas Muster when he was 11 in Austria. So it a good win.
    “Mark, Great game today. I’m proud of your game and your tennis skills!!!!” He’s a friend and I’m trying to help him put his game together.

  • Sam · September 22, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    No problem, Scoop. A game that lasted 30 minutes??? For many folks, that’s a whole day’s worth of exercise!! 🙂 Is your friend the same guy mentioned in the article?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Sam, yes he was watching the third set. The last game was long, the people who were watching the finale of the match said that last game at 54 was like 30 minutes. Seemed like it was. It was high drama, my partner missed two match point volleys and then couldn’t make a return from deuce court and I had to keep winning those points from ad court when we were down game point, somehow we won all of those games, I made all the returns. Then we turned it around and finally got another one or two match points and finally finished it about 15-20 minutes after the first match point. High drama!

  • Cory Minto · September 23, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    Does Peter Polansky qualify as the pro version of this player? *tongue in cheek* Hey he’s made a career doing what he loves so good for him. Occasional flashes of brilliance, in short bursts…. like today he’s up 4-0 in the opening set at the R.G. qualies, and of course loses the set and match, i believe 7-5, 6-0. Polansky completely lacks a mental game. For some reason, I am always rooting for underdogs like him, Tim Smyczek (now retired), Donald Young, Stefon Kozlov, and other players who live on the Challenger circuit, hoping that for once they will not get in their OWN way from a victory or dare i say a string of them. Total digression of the O.P., of course, sorry in advance.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Cory,Polansky is the king of lucky losers into grand slam main draws. He has the game to be higher ranked and to have better results. Maybe he plays too one dimensional? Too aggressive? My most memorable match of Polansky was practice set tiebreakers with nishioka in Delray Beach two years ago. They were playing harder crazy points of full all out effort more than most ATP matches. Wish I filmed it.



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